Cryptologic Bytes

"On This Date in History" Calendar

1945: Truck lost at Colmar, France causes theater-wide search

Thursday, February 3, 2022

3 February 1945: Truck lost (stolen) at Colmar, France, containing three safes with a SIGABA, rotors, and keylists, causing a theater-wide search. The SIGABA machine was a vital part of a worldwide combined (US/UK) communications system, and should it fall into enemy hands, the results could be devastating. At the time, it was the only highly secure U.S. cipher system available to U.S. units in Europe.

After a great amount of concern, precautionary measures, and an extensive search, the stolen truck and its contents were found in March 1945. The SIGABA and cryptographic materials were recovered intact as they had been locked inside of safes that had not been opened and were dumped into rivers and streams. As it turned out, the investigation concluded that the truck was stolen for the value of the truck itself and the thieves were unaware that the truck contained highly sensitive cryptographic equipment.

Read the NSA publication, "The Colmar Incident" via the link below.

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